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Bizet’s incidental music to L’Arlesienne rose from the ashes of Daudet’s failed play after he compiled an orchestral suite within days of its demise in October 1872. The opening Prelude uses the ancient Provencal “March of the Three Kings” to set the scene, then cuts to a demure love song played by the alto saxophone. A turbulent second love song interrupts to close the movement. The light, Gallic Minuetto served as an interlude between acts III and IV. The Adagietto depicts a tender reunion between now-aged young sweethearts, and Mahler’s Adagietto (Symphony No. 5) owes much to Bizet. The closing Carillon depicts a wedding celebration, interrupted by the old woman sweetheart’s reminiscence of former romance. As usual I have scored the wind band sparingly except in climactic passages, in order to maximize clarity, and have not sought to imitate the orchestral scoring per se.
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